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National Voter Registration Act

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Format: 2020
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League of Women Voters of Ohio v. LaRose (Michael H. Watson, S.D. Ohio 2:20-cv-1638)
A district judge found that Ohio’s primary election accommodations for the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic did not result in unconstitutionally cumbersome voting.
Subject: Registration procedures. Topics: COVID-19;registration procedures; absentee ballots; National Voter Registration Act; primary election; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Georgia State Conference of the NAACP v. Georgia (Timothy C. Batten, Sr., N.D. Ga. 1:17-cv-1397)
Granting a preliminary injunction, a federal district judge found that a state statute requiring voter registration five Mondays in advance of an election to be eligible to vote in a later runoff election was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act’s requirement that voter registrations for federal elections be accepted until no more than 30 days before an election.
Subject: Registration procedures. Topics: Registration procedures; National Voter Registration Act; recusal; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP v. North Carolina State Board of Elections (Loretta C. Biggs, M.D.N.C. 1:16-cv-1274)
Eight days before a presidential election, a federal complaint challenged widespread cancelation of voter registrations based on single instances of undeliverable mail. Finding that the National Voter Registration Act proscribed systematic voter registration cancelations less than 90 days before a federal election and proscribed cancelations based on evidence of residence changes before two federal elections had occurred, a district judge enjoined the voter registration cancelation program at issue in an opinion issued four days before the election. The judge issued a permanent injunction about two years later.
Subject: Nullifying registrations. Topics: Registration challenges; National Voter Registration Act.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

True the Vote v. Hosemann (Michael P. Mills, N.D. Miss. 3:14-cv-144) and True the Vote v. Hosemann (Henry T. Wingate and Nancy F. Atlas, S.D. Miss. 3:14-cv-532)
A federal complaint sought voter information to investigate the possibility of voting in a runoff senatorial primary election for one party after voting in another party’s earlier primary election. The judge who was assigned the case determined that it should have been brought in the other district, which includes the capital. A second suit there was transferred to a district in another state within the circuit because of the federal bench’s close ties with the incumbent senator, a candidate in the runoff primary election. The transferee judge dismissed claims under the National Voter Registration Act for failure to comply with the Act’s notice requirements. By the time of decision, the defendants had disclosed to the plaintiffs all of the information required by the Act anyway.
Subject: Voting irregularities. Topics: National Voter Registration Act; primary election; recusal; case assignment; attorney fees; matters for state courts.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Colón Marrero v. Pérez (Carmen Consuelo Cerezo, D.P.R. 3:12-cv-1749)
Five days before a September 17, 2012, voter registration deadline in Puerto Rico, a voter filed a federal complaint challenging the cancellation of her registration because she had not voted in the 2008 general election. The district judge denied the voter immediate relief because (1) the National Voter Registration Act does not apply to Puerto Rico as it does to the states, (2) the Help America Vote Act does not afford a private right of action, and (3) the plaintiff had not justified her bringing the case so late. The court of appeals, on the other hand, found probable success on the merits and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing. On October 18, the court of appeals determined that relief for the plaintiff had become infeasible. In November, the court of appeals vacated an order issued in the plaintiff’s favor by the district court judge under the All Writs Act. After further litigation, the court issued a declaratory judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, which was affirmed on appeal. The courts ruled that canceling a federal voter registration after missing only one general election violates HAVA. In 2017, the court awarded the plaintiffs $135,931 in attorney fees.
Topics: Registration challenges; National Voter Registration Act; Help America Vote Act (HAVA); laches; enforcing orders; attorney fees.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Arizona Democratic Party v. Reagan (Steven P. Logan, D. Ariz. 2:16-cv-3618)
The state’s voter registration deadline fell on a holiday, and a political party sued the state’s secretary of state in federal court to have the deadline extended by one day, but the party did not sue until more than a week after the deadline passed. The district judge determined that the secretary’s not giving voters an extra day to register violated state law and the National Voter Registration Act, but the judge determined that the party filed the case too late to merit injunctive relief.
Topics: Registration procedures; laches; National Voter Registration Act.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Nu Mu Lambda Chapter v. Cox (William C. O’Kelley, 1:04-cv-1780) and ACORN v. Cox (Jack T. Camp, 1:06-cv-1891) (N.D. Ga.)
A 2004 complaint alleged that Georgia improperly required newly registered voters to submit their voter registration forms directly to the government rather than to coordinators of voter registration efforts. Thirteen days after the complaint was filed, the court granted the plaintiffs injunctive relief. The court of appeals affirmed in 2005. In 2006, a similar complaint alleged that Georgia was not complying with the earlier precedent. Again, the court granted the plaintiffs preliminary injunctive relief. Two years later, the court vacated the preliminary injunction because the parties had not moved the case forward.
Topics: Registration procedures; National Voter Registration Act; enforcing orders; interlocutory appeal.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Campanello v. New York State Board of Elections (Joanna Seybert and Sandra J. Feuerstein, E.D.N.Y. 2:16-cv-1892)
Filed on the day before a presidential primary election, a federal complaint sought to open the parties’ primary elections to voters of all parties as a remedy for allegedly improper purging of party registrations. The district judge on miscellaneous duty denied immediate relief. Following their filing of an amended complaint after the election, the plaintiffs declined to respond to a motion to dismiss the case, and so the assigned judge dismissed the case.
Topics: Registration procedures; matters for state courts; primary election; National Voter Registration Act; case assignment; class action; ballot segregation; provisional ballots.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

Florida Democratic Party v. Hood (Stephan P. Mickle, N.D. Fla. 4:04-cv-405)
A political party filed a federal complaint challenging election officials’ not processing voter registration applications on which applicants did not check a box stating that they were U.S. citizens even if they signed a statement that they were citizens. The district judge ordered a prompt response and then dismissed the case for lack of standing, because the party had not alleged actual denial of registration for one of its members.
Topics: Citizenship; registration procedures; National Voter Registration Act.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

Available Online Only

United States v. Florida (Robert L. Hinkle, N.D. Fla. 4:12-cv-285)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit determined that a systematic purge of noncitizens’ voter registrations violates the National Voter Registration Act. During the 2012 election cycle, the Justice Department brought a federal action against Florida in the Northern District of Florida claiming that Florida was violating the Act. Fifteen days later, the district court ruled against preliminary injunctive relief, because Florida had ceased the purge that prompted the suit. In addition, the district judge ruled that the 90-day proscription against systematic purges did not apply to noncitizens. In another case, a judge in the Southern District came to the same conclusion. Florida resumed its purge upon access to more reliable citizenship data from the Department of Homeland Security. In 2014, the court of appeals held a systematic purge even of noncitizens illegal shortly before an election, when there is little time to correct errors.
Topics: Citizenship; registration challenges; National Voter Registration Act; intervention; recusal; case assignment.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.

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